13 Nov 2015

Ten Forward: January 2016

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the ten titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the November issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in January 2016.

Also this month, we welcome Ann L and Billy P to the assembled ranks of The PCG.

Writer: Rich Douek
Art: Brett Barkley
IDW $3.99

Ann L: I don’t know if it’s the fact that this book is being released on my birthday next year or if it’s the part fantasy, part noir feel to the cover that’s drawing me in, but any comic that has its main character, Cinder Byrnes, trying to "lie, cheat and steal his way into wizardry" has my vote. Like you, I’m picky with what I read, and if I’m going to commit four months of my life and invest in a book, then it’s got to have that je ne sais quoi! Set in a modern NYC, where World War II was fought with magic and not bombs, Rich Douek’s Gutter Magic seems to be asking: what if Cinder Byrnes could use magic? And what if your closest ally was a green-skinned goblin, and your sidekick a powerful magician reminiscent of Hermione Granger? This has all the elements of Scott Snyder’s terrifying Wytches, Greg Rucka’s excellent Black Magick and Marguerite Bennett’s stunning DC Comics Bombshells all wrapped up into one glorious hodgepodge, and I for one can’t wait to blow out my candles, have a slice of cake and cosy up and dig into what is surely going to be a dark magical adventure.

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: I avoided the recent Old Man Logan miniseries because, in all honesty, I have very little faith in Bendis’ superhero work these days. But I heard good things about it and the art looked pretty fantastic so maybe it’s worth seeking out… but that’s a question for another time perhaps as we’re now looking at an Old Man Logan ongoing, with the same guy in the artistic hot seat (that’ll be Andrea Sorrentino) but a change in scripter, with Jeff Lemire adding a second X-book to his workload, following Extraordinary X-Men. Now, while the first issue of Extraordinary X-Men didn’t do much for me (a great writer apparently hemmed in my franchise requirements) I can see the potential of this for Lemire – hopefully it’s more of a character study with an opportunity for development rather than a tickbox-checking team book. I’ll give it one issue at the very least.

Writer: Len Wein
Art: Kelly Jones
DC $2.99

Rob N: Unless my eyes deceive me (and at my age they are beginning to) it seems that DC is going through something of a nostalgia fest, reaching out to several of its more 'classic' writers and artists from the '70s and '80s, and offering them the chance to revisit iconic characters that they once made their own. In addition to Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman being given fresh writing gigs, the venerable Len Wein has been offered the opportunity to relaunch a character he co-created alongside Bernie Wrightson, namely the Swamp Thing. Now Swampie has probably had more relaunches than I'm comfortable with over the years, and to be totally honest many of them have been very average, maybe because they've all lived in the very long shadow of Alan Moore. But it's fair to say that setting aside Alan Moore's run on the title, the Len Wein issues from the early '70s are probably the next best, so I'm tentatively interested in seeing how he does the second time around. I have to be honest though and own up to the fact that I often find the return of many of my favourite writers and artists from my childhood to be a little disappointing once the fruits of their labours hit the printed page. Neal Adams, for example, has never really come close to his glory days, but forever being the optimist I always like to live in hope, and at least with Kelly Jones on board we're promised an art style that is perfect for the muck monster.

Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Juan Gedeon
Aftershock $3.99

Kenny J: A new year and a new slew of comic book titles hit the stores but this time there is also a new name among the publishers: Aftershock Comics. However, some of the names creating books under this new banner are some of the most well-known and respected names in comics. Justin Jordan is one of those names, a creator I will check out anything by (but I do have to say I prefer his more fantastical work). From the solicitations, Strayer - with its monster hunters and magic - seems far more along the lines of his previous works, Spread and the Luther Strode trilogy, with creatures, murder and probably a healthy dose of gore. Juan Gedeon art is right up my street as well, bringing the same bold shapes and heavy lines he used on Ghost Racers. It's too early to say whether this will be a contender for book of the year come the end of 2016 - the Paradoscars have only just started for this year - but we may very well have a new contender for top publisher.

Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Marco Checchetto
Marvel $3.99

Billy P: Since the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and the wholesale rebooting of the Expanded Universe, Marvel have started to rebuild the Star Wars comic book canon with varying degrees of success. The least effective, in my view, has been Rucka and Checchetto’s Shattered Empire, which promised to continue the story post-Return Of The Jedi, but ended up as a confused tangle of vignettes. As a Rucka fan, I was sorely disappointed. On the other hand, Checchetto’s art was spellbinding and captured the grand essence of Star Wars beautifully. Forthcoming miniseries, Obi-Wan And Anakin, unites Checchetto with writer Charles Soule, and exploits the narrative gap between The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones. Given that Anakin grows from farmboy to Padawan instantaneously in the film series, there is rich potential in the space between instalments to flesh out the tragic relationship between these characters. Despite the promotional campaign for The Force Awakens steering clear of the Prequel Trilogy (famously vilified and torpedoed by many fans), Marvel have not cast Episodes I to III into cultural memory but, rather, started to incorporate them into the new Star Wars canon (Princess Leia visiting Naboo, for example, or Darth Vader tortured by memories of Padme Amidala). Whatever you think of the Prequels, Soule’s excellent Lando series and the return of Checchetto’s galactic artistry sets the bar at a high standard. The Prequel timeline may just be the place to begin sowing these seeds for a rich harvest of story, drama and myth.

Writer: Joe Kelly
Art: Max Fiumara
Image $2.99

Stewart R: It was within the first year of being introduced to The PCG that I picked up Joe Kelly's Four Eyes. Strange to think, but back then I was investing most of my comic purchasing power into Marvel wholeheartedly, and Image were but a curiosity to me, known for publishing Spawn and Savage Dragon. It was Max Fiumara's slightly quirky style with physiology that drew me to the book and then Kelly's gifted talent for storytelling that beckoned me deeper into a Depression-era alt-history where underground battles take place between dragons for a braying public. I got to speak to Kelly back on my first trip to NYCC and he mentioned that more Four Eyes was coming, and four years later (give or take) he's bringing Brooklyn youngster, Enrico, and his dragon back to detail the further trials of their young relationship together. In all honesty, I'd say that if Game Of Thrones and The Hobbit hadn't hit small and big screens in the past few years we might well have seen this picked up for a live action prospect, the premise is so strong and simple.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Juan Doe
Aftershock $3.99

James R: This had 'Must Read' written all over it for me. I am a big fan of Brian Azzarello (and absolutely loved 100 Bullets) and so the prospect of a new series from the writer is bound to pique my interest. It's being published by Aftershock Comics,  the new publisher with former Bat-book mastermind Mike Marts at the helm. The book itself also sounds great - a war veteran returns to his hometown, transformed both emotionally and physically, but is he a hero, or the eponymous monster? With art from Juan Doe, I can't wait to see how this book takes shape, and it looks like the first 'One to Watch' of 2015.

Writer: Jack Kirby
Art: Jack Kirby
IDW $39.99

Rob N: While there are many advantages to living in the UK, it does mean we miss out on things like the recent Jack Kirby exhibition at the California State University in Northridge that showcased many glorious pages of original art from the mid-’60s onwards. Kirby was the first artist that I began to notice when I got into comics as a young boy; his distinctive style seemed to leap out from the page in a way that his many peers couldn't hope to emulate. 'Crackling with energy' is virtually a cliché but a very apt one that applies to any discussion of Kirby's classic art and to see the original black and white pages in all their glory would be a treat indeed, especially since I'm a firm believer that Jack's art never looks better than in the pure black and white form. This then is a celebratory companion volume to the exhibit that serves to offer us a glimpse of the art on display alongside various appreciative articles by the great and good in the graphic medium. There are a lot of Kirby books and magazines available these days but when it comes to the King of Comics, there can never be too many.

Writer: Ulises Farinas & Erick Freitas
Art: Julien Dufour, Matt Rota, Melody Often & Yumi Sakugawa
IDW $3.99

Kenny J: Indie is king. Image are putting out a raft of top quality books, Marvel are snapping up creators left, right and centre, and DC, well DC have their quarterly-themed anthologies. It must be only a matter of time before Ulises Farinas joins their ranks. Not only is he one of my favourite artists but he is also a fantastic writer as demonstrated in the pages of Amazing Forest, alongside Erick Reitas, himself a greatly inventive writer. In this issue we will get science fiction, comedy and horror, stories that read like 2000 AD ‘Future Shocks’, and some that read like, albeit weird, slice-of-life dramas, all drawn by different artists. Originally digitally published by Monkeybrain, IDW will now be bringing it to good old fashioned paper - an opportunity I won’t be passing up.

Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Jonthan Wayshak
Dynamite Entertainment $3.99

James R: Given Rick Remender's recent run of form, this book is easily the thing I'm  most excited about for January. Described by Remender as "A return to the pulp/grindhouse science fiction I built my career on", this title focuses on a world where the various species of Earth are devolving rather than evolving. The writer says Devolution "Promises high-octane action, character drama, a world of strange mutations and social commentary". The art from Jonathan Wayshak looks frankly stunning in the previews pages, and I'm pretty confident that this will be another smash to follow on from the creator-owned triumphs of Black Science, Deadly Class and Low.

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